"And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." (Matthew 10:13-15; King James Bible Version).
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8 & 9: New King James Bible Version).
Those of us, who grew up in a Christian church in America, remember singing, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak but he is strong…." We grew up loving Jesus because we were taught that he first loved us. We were the 'little ones' back then, and we loved being loved, without conditions, but loved just because of who we were…the children of God, Spirit.
For many, this sense of the spirit of love expressed by Christ Jesus continued throughout most of our lives. One way or another, it seemed to point to the ever-present fact that God loved us, too. Speaking of this love, the song merely says that, "the Bible tells us so;" but there might be more to Christ Jesus' love for the small ones than we realize. And, until we absorb the full passages in the Bible, where Jesus gave reasons for respecting these small ones he encountered in his ministry, we simply go on relating to our little ones as cute, but somewhat insignificant.
In Matthew 10: 13 & 14 (See full bible quote above) Jesus said of little ones, "for of such is the kingdom of God." In Matthew 18: 1-6, an account is recorded that actually includes a warning against anyone who would 'offend' a small child. Here is that account:
In these passages, Jesus attributed greatness and humility to the small children among us, and said that, "whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me." Many adults in the Christian community would gratefully seek that honor—yet, it was saved for the little ones who believed in the message that Jesus brought to humanity, not we adults.
So, my point is that, according to Christ Jesus, there is significantly more spiritual value in being young, or still fairly new to this world, than there is in spending a lot of time here. Generally speaking, spiritual wisdom does not follow age. The longer we are here, the more our spiritual light is likely to dim. We may know more about how the world operates but miss the knowledge and wisdom about the kingdom of God, which is invisibly present and trumps any material law that seems to be governing our lives. Thus, from a spiritual viewpoint, advance years are not an asset; and, although some advance spiritually despite the mesmerism and influence of worldly pursuits and beliefs, these goals and beliefs are both more of a detriment than a positive influence in our advancing years.
So, the emphasis Jesus made concerning those innocent young ones among us was meant to show that this dimension of material existence is not a friend to spirituality. And although, through our own desires and pursuits we can advance spiritually, this does not seem to be true in most cases. The longer we are here, the more we are likely to conform to the erroneous, material (fleshly) beliefs about our identities and the bad experiences produced by such fleshly, rather than spiritual beliefs.
When my daughter was about five years old, I began to see what Jesus meant when he spoke of the humility and trust of the young, over those of us who felt superior (due to our greater so-called knowledge). Before telling the story, here is a bit of background to the episode:
From my own earliest memories, I've always had an exaggerated sense of responsibility for everything that happens to me, and to those around me. I felt that I must DO something to fix everyone's troubles, as well as those of my own. (This website is even evidence of that.) This false sense of responsibility has been, for me, 'a hard nut to crack.'
So, as often happens on any path we choose, I became much busier, and more stressed, than I needed to be. My biggest problem was that, since the time that I was a little girl, I had always wanted to know what Jesus knew, which made him capable of healing all the people that my Sunday-school teachers said he had healed. (I didn't read or study the Bible until years later.) I felt that if I could just figure out what Jesus knew about healing, I could become a spiritual healer, myself, and do some good in the world.
Human will-power, as part of the healing way, was quickly rejected. We can't will ourselves into enlightenment of spiritual things. And I never really doubted that spiritual healing is real. I believe in it now, more than ever. But, as the years went on, I just couldn't figure out how such healings came about. Having faith in God to do the healings didn't explain to me what Jesus knew and had passed along to his disciples and followers, in those early days of Christianity. I did feel that it was a mental process, in some way, more than miraculous, for Jesus once said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." (John 14:12; New King James Bible Version).
Yet, comprehension of what made Christ Jesus' spiritual knowledge heal physical ills, and lives, eluded me for a long time. My account about how this quest was answered for me is another story; but here is the incident that corrected my thinking and healed much of my own sense of false responsibility along the way—and it came from my own five year old daughter:
It happened, one day, when my husband came home after having been told that, for political reasons, he was going to be dismissed from his state job. He was told that a certain state legislator was requesting his dismissal. My husband was stunned, because he wasn't a political employee, nor political in any way; so why would a politician even take notice of him?
Right away, I took up the cause. Knowing that God was somehow taking care of us, despite any contrary appearances, I still began to take it all upon myself to 'heal' my husband's looming unemployment. So, I tried to quiet down my daughter's energetic behavior around the house, in order for me to more quickly sit down and pray about it in the way I had learned to pray, which was realizing the truth of God's eternal, loving presence and care—and mentally standing in that truth, until the change in consciousness transformed the human situation.
I knew that spiritual healings resulted from this type of prayer (rather than pleading with God) and yet, despite this knowledge, I also believed that the divine truth of God's presence and ultimate power required at least one person to pray this particular-type prayer of faith. So, I had to be that person.
On that occasion, however, my little girl was as rowdy as she could be. Finally, in frustration, I scolded her soundly for not playing quietly, and told her that daddy was losing his job and that I had to pray about it rightly, or it wouldn't be fixed. And that's when she said the words that made me stop in my tracks. Wiping a few tears from her eyes, she said, "But Mommy, won't God still take care of daddy, even if you don't pray?"
I remember that I stopped moving and just blinked. My mouth went open, but I didn't know what to say. In such an innocent way, she had made me face a truth I had never really perceived before. It was a truth that had always been true, and it had come from a five year old child, who had never studied any religious teachings.
The answer to her question, of course, was 'yes'—God had never needed me to make Its presence and power active in the human experience. I had just believed that my input (of knowing the rightful prayer of specific, spiritual truths) was the agent of change, or restoration, to all the lacks, limitations, and afflictions in our human experience, including my husband's employment problem.
On that day, however, my young daughter had opened my eyes to the fact that I was erroneous in my thinking as to how important I was, as an individual, in the healing process. I had wrongly believed that, since I had spent so many years of studying and finding the spiritual truth of so many things, that I was a significant one, who was needed as the healer. I had been on an ego-trip, trying to fix all the problems of others, instead of knowing that God had never left the building—and if, or when, God really needed my help, I would be one of the first to know.
I suddenly realized, after all those years of toil, that all I was required to do was TRUST what I knew of God's invisible presence and ultimate power, and allow the Almighty to do the rest—which meant bringing about the physical transformation required, in God's own way. Every situation needing God's harmony to come forth (even unemployment) is unique. Only the divine Intelligence knows every path of restoration that is to occur to correct our human foibles.
After my daughter's question, and my 'Eureka' moment, a peaceful feeling swept over me, and I felt the large burden of false responsibility slip off my shoulders. Instead of continuing to scold my daughter, I joined in her activity. By that afternoon, I was mentally prompted to make one phone call…to my mother-in-law, of all people. I did so, and it came to my thought to explain it all to her about her son's eminent job loss. I couldn't figure out how she could help us (she lived on a farm, hundreds of miles north of us, and she wasn't a political person either) but I followed the inner voice telling me to call her.
It turned out that the particular politician who had requested my husband's loss of employment was an old friend of my husband's mother! (Who would have thunk it?) She called her old friend and he quickly withdrew his request for my husband's removal (saying he hadn't known that it was her son he was threatening)—and here's the best part: to make up for the distress of such treatment, the politician told the agency to leave my husband alone, in the future; he was off-limits.
This all occurred some thirty years ago, and my husband retired from state employment in 2005, after a distinguished record of service. God's protection from the wrongful behavior of others had delivered our family from a financial threat, even into the future. That experience showed me that the divine Will never leaves us to human will.
From that healing, I finally learned to trust God all the way through a bad human situation. I also saw the need to get myself out of the way, so that the divine and infinite Intelligence of God could operate without human interference. Each employment issue is different. We don't want to block any divine paths to healing; for God is both the power, and the agent of change, which is uniquely required for each human problem confronting us..
So, from the mouth of babes, the wisdom of the ages can flow out. Once again, Jesus spoke of the 'little ones' to his followers: "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18: 9 & 10; New King James Bible Version). I think this mean that the innocent minds of the 'little ones' among us are more receptive to the spiritual truth of God's invisible kingdom and unconditional love for us, than we adults—who have been taught in the opposite direction and who have grown so distrustful concerning the Almighty's will and ability to deliver us from all human woes.
When Jesus spoke of the spiritual perception of the innocent babes around us, he was showing us their natural trust in things they feel in their hearts but do not necessarily perceive with the physical senses. Material appearances and perceptions do not mean as much to them, as they do to adults.
I also do not think that Jesus' love for the children means that we must return to our childhood, or become childish; rather, it suggests to us that appearances do not matter so much to a small child because the material, worldly beliefs in our human experience have not yet taken over the consciousness of our little ones. They naturally trust God's ever-lasting love and good will toward us. And they more easily leave their problems to their loving Father/Mother God, as they simply go about their play.